Some time ago I’ve reviewed the Lanparte HHG-01 Handheld gimbal (you can find that review here). I was very impressed with the technique of this little gizmo that can be used for both smartphones and action cameras. Despite the excellent functionality of the HHG-01 the people at Lanparte thought they could do even better. That’s why they’ve introduced the Lanparte LA3D, that is sold as the more advanced (and a little more expensive) brother of the HHG-01. In this review I’ll tell you all about the new LA3D.
The Lanparte LA3D
The LA3D has got a lot in common with the HHG-01, there are some distinctive differences though. The LA3D is even more advanced than the HHG-01 was, and has got the following features:
- Suited for GoPro and differed action camera models (to use the Lanparte LA3D with non-GoPro cameras or the new Sessions-series by GoPro you do need optional mounts), you can’t use the LA3D with a smartphone anymore. The supplies mount works with all GoPro Hero Models like the Hero 3 and 4 and compatible clones.
- The motors have encoders built in, making that they can be actuated even more precise. This is especially helpful when the unit is manipulated by, for instance, wind on a moving car (I’ll tell you more about that later on in the review).
- Detachable grip, so you can use an extension cord to place the head away from the grip. It is possible to mount the head on top of your car with an GoPro suction cup or on top of a pole to film up high.
- The Lanparte LA3D has got an power supply for your GoPro camera, so you can charge your camera while using the LA3D to stabilize the video.
- 3 different modes for more flexibility than you had with the HHG-01.
- It comes with two rechargeable batteries, that will keep the unit going for about two hours. You also get an battery extender you can use to fit 2 bigger 18650 batteries in the LA3D for longer continuous use.
- USB-port for firmware updates and adding new functionality. Lanparte has built Bluetooth functionality in to the unit that will be activated with future updates for full wireless control.
Besides the differenced with the HHG-01 Lanparte has kept a few things the same. Built quality is on par (or maybe even a little better) with the HHG-01. The grip is compact and has got a ‘grippy’ rubberized coating. The on / off switch is on the bottom of the grip, just like it is on the HHG-01.
In the top half of the grip you’ll find the controls. This allows you to switch between the different operation modes, and adjust the camera (left-right, up-down or tilting dependant on the used mode). The grip also has got a small LED light. On the right there is a small wheel that looks like a volume control wheel. That’s used to adjust the speed the camera is adjusted.
The batteries are inserted in the bottom of the grip, like you do with an flashlight. Because Lanparte has used separate cells to power the LA3D it is also possible to use more batteries for longer continuous use. The LA3D is supplied with an battery extender that allows you to use 2 bigger 18650 cells, for about 4 hours of continuous use. Unfortunately the used batteries aren’t a standard model, so you can’t easily replace them with single use batteries.
At the top of the grip is the connector to mount the head. You can mount the head directly to the grip to use the Lanparte LA3D as a handheld gimbal, or you can use the supplied 1.5 meter long extension cable. The connector has got a sturdy twist-lock system to lock the head in place. The extension cord has got an tripod mount screw on the side of the head you can use to mount it to an tripod. The head also has got an standard GoPro mount, so you can also use it with GoPro accessories (like an suction-mount or an bike mount).
Because the grip is very compact and thin and it uses small battery cells it is a little more compact and light than the grip of the Lanparte HHG-01. The head is also a little smaller, which means there isn’t enough room to mount a smartphone anymore. Just like with the HHG-01 the head’s arms are made of black anodized aluminium. That means the LA3D is durable and strong enough for years of intensive use. The motors have (Lanparte-)green rings to lighten-up the design. The motors themselves have small status-LED’s, the LED in de rear motor shows in which mode the LA3D is:
- Green, following mode
- Red, semi- following mode
- Blue, locked mode
In the section about use I’ll tell you more about the different modes.
Lanparte ships the LA3D with a full box with goodies. Besides the LA3D you’ll find the battery extender, extension-cord, battery-charger, power supply for the GoPro, Micro-USB cable for firmware updates and the luxurious carrying case in the box. The carrying case has got cut-outs for the LA3D with the head detached and all the supplies accessories. You can keep your GoPro mounted to the head as it will still fit in the case. The Lanparte LA3D costs 399 euro’s in the Netherlands, and for that price you get 3 years warranty (in the Netherlands).
The Lanparte LA3D is, despite all the advanced functions, very easy to use. With the switch on the bottom of the grip you can turn the LA3D on. After switching it on the LA3D starts in stand-by mode, it doesn’t activate until you press and hold the mode button for 3 seconds. It always starts in following mode, with the status LED on the motor turning green. In this mode the LA3D operates exactly the same as the HHG-01 does. It stabilizes all movement. Of you rotate your hand left or right the LA3D will follow that direction, but is smooths out the movement giving you very professional looking pans. It works the same with up and down movement.
When you press the mode button twice shortly the semi-following mode is activated. In this mode you can turn the camera up or down with the controls on the grip. That also means you can use the LA3D upside down to film close to the ground. That wasn’t possible with the HHG-01 making the LA3D a little more flexible to use.
When you press the mode button three times it activates the lock-mode. In this mode the camera is locked in one direction and the LA3D keeps the camera looking in the same direction for the whole time. You can adjust the camera both left to right and up and down with the controls on the grip.
Because of the advanced technique the Lanparte LA3D helps you to shoot very stable video, with the LA3D compensating shaking and unwanted movement. That means you can shoot smooth video while walking, skating, running or skiing without the video being shaky. In the following video I’m walking next to the train tracks without doing my best to keep the unit stabilized letting the LA3D handle the movement. As you can see in the clip you can still see a little movement, but the video is still pleasurable to watch. I’ve got the feeling the stabilization of the LA3D is even more advanced than the already impressive HHG-01.
In the next video you can see what is possible with the LA3D when you really try to get the best possible result. The video shows almost no shutter, shake or unwanted movement. If you take some more time to practise you can even get better results. When using the pan-function you can make very smooth video’s. This means you can shoot almost professional looking video with just a GoPro and LA3D weighing less than one kilogram (two pounds).
The last video is a bonus clip of me walking and running with our dog. This video is shot using the 120 fps mode of the GoPro Hero 4. Even running the video is very smooth.
While shooting these videos I quickly drained the batteries of the GoPro’s, as they struggled to keep their charge in the cold weather. With just a few minutes the batteries gave up the struggle. In those conditions it was great to use the power supply for the GoPro on the LA3D so you can charge your camera using the LA3D’s powerful batteries. That means you can film a lot longer without changing batteries in your camera.
Because the motors on the LA3D have built-in encoders they can be adjusted very precise. That also means the LA3D can compensate when are pushed back, for instance when you mount it to the roof of your car where the wind blows hard. I’ve heard the LA3D is powerful enough to compensate for wind up to about 200 km/h and it is still able to stabilize your video. Unfortunately I didn’t have a GoPro suction mount available during this review to test this. You do feel the LA3D is quite power full when you push the arms back, the motors make a whining sound and compensate for the pressure you give them. If you did that with the Lanparte HHG-01 it would go mad and you couldn’t use it for some time until it stabilized again.
Lanparte has built Bluetooth hardware in to the LA3D, that isn’t used in the current firmware version. Lanparte has said they will add new functionality in the future with firmware updates, also activating Bluetooth wireless control.
The Lanparte LA3D is one of the most advanced and flexible usable gimbals you can buy right now. I love the ability to use the head detached with the extension cord and the option to add new functions via firmware update. The LA3D also differs from simpler models with the advanced motors with encoders making the gimbal usable on top of your car or on the steering wheel of an motorcycle. It is also great you can use the LA3D upside down to film close to the ground, that is something most cheaper gimbals won’t allow you to do.
The LA3D has to compete with advanced other gimbals like de DJI Osmo. The Osmo is a lot more expensive (about 800 euro’s in the Netherlands) but that comes with an advanced camera. If you combine the LA3D with an advanced GoPro like for instance the Hero 4+ it is about as expensive as the Osmo. The LA3D is more flexible than the Osmo as you can use it with the head detached, something the Osmo can’t do. I also like the fact you can use the LA3D with different action cameras, so you can switch your camera for a newer or more advanced model as new and more advanced models are introduced. And if you are on a tighter budget you can choose to combine the LA3D with an cheaper, less advanced action camera to start with.
That, with the option to add new functionality over time makes that the LA3D will give you the pleasure of shooting beautiful, stabilized video for years on end.